City University of Hong Kong CLASS CLASS
Making Sense of Grammar
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asked Apr 26 in Questions about Chinese Grammar by Ariel (34,480 points) | 34 views

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The nominal predicate and the S-P predicate construction are the natural corollary of the topic prominent feature of the Chinese language. The very definition of topic is given in terms of ‘pragmatic aboutness and relevance’; therefore, topic may not be grammatically or semantically related to comment or determined by comment (Lambrecht, 1994). Comment could be a verb phrase, a clause, or a nominal phrase; so long as it is contextually related to the topic and adds some information about the topic, the sentence is well-formed and meaningful. In the nominal predicate sentence, the predicate role is assumed by a NP, whose meaning can be construed as relevant to the first NP or the topic in the context. In the ‘S-P predicate’ case the comment is realized by a clause with its subject and predicate. Hence it is the ‘open and pragmatic relation’ between topic and comment that gives rise to the nominal predicate and S-P predicate constructions in Chinese.

[1] Loar, J. K. (2011). Chinese syntactic grammar: functional and conceptual principles. New York: Peter Lang.
answered Apr 26 by Ariel (34,480 points)

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